Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Great Weekend & Busy Week

I had a fun time this weekend with John in Ohio! It was fun to think as I flew in that in the somewhat near future this area would be my home!

The weather was nice, so we were able to spend some time on Saturday afternoon on a walk at nearby Mohecan State Park. We walked to a small, but beautiful waterfall. It's a place that will be fun to go back to someday. There are camping areas and canoeing nearby!

I was able to once again to attend Morrow Bible Church and to stay at the pastor's house for the weekend. It's been very nice to be able to stay with them each time I go up to see John. They have been very hospitable!

We also enjoyed a nice meal on Saturday with another family that goes to the church. I've gone there several times now, and we played take 2 with them after dinner. The spread of games from Alabama to Ohio has already begun!

This week is going to be very busy from this point forward. I'm preparing for inventory today and it starts tomorrow bright and early at 6 AM! I'm hoping that we are close to being done by the end of Friday, but more likely that not we will be working well into Saturday and possibly even on Monday.

Usually we only have to do inventory once a year, but this time it's different. It's been only 5 months since we went through this. But I guess it will be good to count and locate everything now since all the parts were moved just a few months ago. Of course we (who actually do the inventory) would never want to do an inventory, much less an extra inventory, but its just something that we have to do.

I am going to spend Friday and Saturday night watching a couple girls so their parents can get away to celebrate their 25th anniversary. I've enjoyed babysitting the girls every month or so for the last 6 months, so I hope that they will do well with me overnight. It should be a lot of fun!

So, time marches on. . . I guess it's good to be busy since it makes time pass quickly. I do need to spend some time on wedding stuff, somehow. One good thing is that the school year is coming to a close. As soon as May is done, I'll have two more free evenings every week! I'm looking forward to that since an evening without a plan for me to be somewhere is practically nonexistent these days.

But in all this, I was reminded this morning in Psalm 62 that we can find rest in God and pour our hearts out to Him!

5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and my honor depend on God ; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

Friday, April 25, 2008

AWANA Books of the Old Testament

I finished this post 3 weeks ago, leaving to see Mrs. Langston at the nursing home while the video uploaded. Of course, John surprised me there and then I had much more interesting post!
Finally I'm going back to this and have decided that now is a good time to post these pictures and video of my AWANA kids class. I have really enjoyed "my kids" this year - ending up with many active boys and girls (though mostly boys) who are typically very excited to be at AWANA.

Above is this year's Picture! All the kids don't have the books completely down as you can tell from the video, but they're close. The video was taken a month ago when my class size just about doubled since I had both the kindergarten and first grade kids due to the kindergartener's teacher being sick (needless to say it was a bit more of a crazy class then usual! We have only two more weeks for the kids to finish saying the sections in their books (and then two more weeks for awards and a pizza party). I think most of the kids who have come all year are very close to finishing and I'm very glad to say that they have done a great job on their books of the old testament section due to Memlok's Say the books! story and actions.

I'm flying off to see John this weekend and can't wait! I plan to take a few pictures, so you should see some photos from that area sometime next week!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Lessons on Love from an Unlikely Source

This morning as I read the story of Samson and Delilah in Judges 16, I made some odd correlations between the their admittedly poor relationship and what a good relationship should include.

If you remember the story, Samson fell in love again. This time it was with a woman of the valley of Sorek (a place on the border of Judah and Philistia). Due to some of the things that Samson had done to the Philistines in the past (like tying and releasing in the Philistines grain 300 foxes together with lighted torches attached to their tails, and killing 30 men to give their clothes and possessions to others, and killing 1000 men with the jawbone of a donkey), the Philistine leaders were very interested in getting back at Samson.

They came to Delilah and promised to give her a lot of silver if she would find out the secret of Samson's great strength. She agreed and asked Sampson. He begin by making up stories that if he were to be tied with new rope or have his hair braided into the fabric then he would be weak like anyone else.

What I found interesting was Delilah's responses when she found out that what he said wasn't true:
Judges 16:10 Then Delilah said to Samson, "You have made a fool of me; you lied to me.
Judges 16: 15 Then she said to him, "How can you say, 'I love you,' when you won't confide in me?
From her very human response, we can see that a good relationship must include telling the truth, not making the other person look like a fool and confiding in each other.

These are not earth-shattering revelations, but just something I noticed this morning. I think these things are applicable in any relationship, but are crucial in a good marriage.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Just Looking . . .

This past Saturday, Anna took me and Jubilee shopping for patterns and cloth. It has been many years since I've been in a cloth or craft store looking for material so I was very thankful for my "little" sister's knowledge and familiarity with this process. We first went to Hobby Lobby, but didn't find very much promising material or many decent patterns. Then we walked down a couple stores to Hancock's where we found all the various materials and patterns shown below.

As you can tell, I'm thinking of using purple for my bridesmaid dresses. We did find some nice purple cloth as well as several possibilities for cloth to use for the wedding dress. But. . . I just wasn't sure what to get. Since I like to sometimes take a little time to make decisions, I decided before we even got to the stores that I would just look and take pictures of things I kinda liked. (As Rob would say, this kind of shopping is not an illustration of patience on my part, just the predetermined way I operate!)

It was fun and before too long we had looked at all there was to see and were off to Sonic for lunch. Neither Jubilee or I are into long shopping trips, so I'm glad we finished before too much time had gone by. On the way home to my families house, I stopped to take pictures of some purple flowers I had noticed on my walk that morning.

I don't know what kind of flowers these are, but they sure were pretty! I guess I'll get to learn all about purple flowers when I start to chose the flowers for the wedding. So much to learn. . .

I usually spend time doing CAD drawings and dealing with small metal parts, heavy bent metal pieces, fasteners, wire and fittings and going to meetings with the guys at work or doing sound at church or doing science experiments at AWANA or countless other non-girly activities. Those are all fun and good, but I think that I will also have some fun with some of the more pretty things of life.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Florida Fun!

When John came down a week ago, we had a great time together! On Saturday we got to go down to Pensacola for the day. It was a wonderful day, and we packed into it as much as possible, leaving Deatsville around 8am and not getting home until around 11pm.

The drive down to Pensacola is just about 3 hours. It's a drive I've taken with friends or family many times on the way too and from college. This trip was special since John was with me! We brought my sisters Jubilee and Anna along too. On the way through Millbrook, we took a short detour into the library to pick up some wedding planning books.

John and Anna looked through a couple of the books while I drove, telling me interesting wedding trivia and things we should think about in planning our wedding. Of course once Odyssey was on at 9am, we had to take a break from wedding stuff to tune in! A Saturday morning trip in my family always means to get time for Odysee and Car talk!

We drove down as the rain cleared up, picked up my college friend Gemma who still lives in Pensacola, and then took the short drive from her house to PCC. I enjoyed showing John around the campus. Seeing all the girls in skirts, the guys in their khakis and collored shirts, and the buildings that were my home for my four years of college was a lot of fun.

It was fun to think back to those years of spending time with my good friends. But you know I am glad that those days are over. They were fun while they lasted, but I'm looking forward to the future. It's strange to think of those days and to realize all that has occured in my life in the six years since graduation. What's even more odd is to realize that it has actually been six years! I guess all those people who say that time flies the older you get (not that I'm getting old yet!) are right.

We spent a little time walking around campus, then played a game of bowling at the Sports Center. Nowhere else that I know of can people bowl for $1.25 a person!

We enjoyed bowling and talking and eating chocolate to tide us over until lunch. After finishing our game of bowling which I won and John got second place :), we headed off to the beach.

First we had a late lunch and then Jubilee convinced us to try out the water. Though the day felt a little cold, the water was great.

Eventually we all joined her in the water where we all tried our best to catch some waves. There were some small waves, so we were able to catch a few. As time went on, we realized that the undertow was strong in places so we decided to have more fun on the shore.

I had borrowed a sandcastle book from Rob, so we got busy! Creating a sturdy sand castle base is hard work. You have to pack down the sand and then add water and pack for a long long time. Using a shovel handle to poke holes in the sand and adding water that way worked pretty good.

Soon, we got tired and decided to get on to the fun part of carving. If (like me) you've never made a sandcastle unless you're playing with young children, you may be surprised that making stairs, little buildings and tunnels can still be a lot of fun! The finished product wasn't as impressive as the castles in the book, but it was a lot of fun and definitely more cool than other sand castles I've built in the past.

Of course the best part was being there with John! We don't get to spend a lot of time together yet since I'm still in Alabama and he's in Ohio. I guess that makes the time we do have together that much more fun. We often pack a lot into a weekend!

Overall it was a great day at the beach. The cloudy cool weather was great since we (for once) avoided a sun burn!

It's taken a while to get this posted and I need to write a little bit about my trip to look at cloth and patterns this past Saturday. But I guess that post will have to wait (or may just get forgotten). The short story is that Anna, Jubilee and I did a lot of looking, but haven't bought anything yet. If any of you have or know of good wedding dress or bridesmaid patterns, decorating ideas or other useful things to know when planning a wedding do let me know!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Short Update

I just want to say a quick thanks to all of you who are reading my blog for all the nice comments! I have enjoyed sharing my excitement with "the world." This joy I have in sharing my love of John is something that just flows out! Of course I can't be grinning ear to ear all the time, but every time I have a chance to tell someone else about John, how we met, and our plans for the future, I just can't stop smiling.

I was thinking a few days ago that this is the same kind of joy we should have in sharing Jesus with others. He is our life and our joy. He is the reason we live. In fact the Bible says that we are the bride of Christ. I think those parallels will have a whole new meeting as I think about and eventually become a bride myself.

I'm halfway through a post about last weekend's fun trip down to Pensacola, but didn't have time to finish it this morning. So I'm just writing this instead! Today is our last day of training at work. All has been going very well. We have a group of 19 people in our class this time - they are very pleasant and all the details for training have been falling together wonderfully. However I will be glad when we're done this afternoon and I can change from teacher back into a "behind the desk" engineer. People can make me tired!

This weekend I will be doing some wedding planning. I hope to spend some time with Anna at a cloth store looking at potential patterns and material for bridesmaid and wedding dresses! I actually tried some dresses on at David's Bridal on Monday evening. I felt like a kid playing dress up - as I looked at myself in the mirror, I just kept thinking, is this really me?

My time has run out if I hope to make it to work in time to print out tests and surveys for my class. More pictures and details will follow later!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

This weekend and readings from Deuteronomy

This week has flown by! John had to leave on Sunday, but will be here tomorrow- I can't wait! We're going down to Pensacola on Saturday to spend time on the beach as well as to hang out with Gemma and see PCC where I went to college. I'm really looking forward to going down there with my fiancé! I hope the weather is a little better than predicted - high of only 70 with 40% chance of rain. But at least that means there's a 60% chance of no rain!

During breakfast this morning, I was reading this morning in Deuteronomy 17:
18 When he [the King] takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. 19 It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees 20 and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.
These verses stuck out to me because I see in them clearly that there is a clearly stated benefit to reading the Bible (even the Old Testament books of the law). I started reading through the Bible again in March and sometimes I wonder if there's a good reason to read some of it again and again, year after year. But here we see a couple reasons to read: 1) to learn to revere the Lord, 2) to follow the law, and 3) to not think he's better than other people and turn away from the law.

It was an encouragement to me to keep on reading and to realize that there is a benefit in reading the OT beyond retaining facts. In the OT we see how God dealt with people and how he spoke with Moses. In it I think we can learn some more of the personality of our great God!

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Rest of the Story - or is it Just the Beginning?

If you haven't read the first part of my story, look down a couple posts to get caught up. . . .

We all stayed with Mrs. Langston for a little while, talking a bit. I was ready to leave and soon Mrs. Langston seemed tired as well so we packed up the cat and left. John had rented a car in Birmingham after flying down, so I went with him while dad took my car home. We sat there in the nursing home parking lot for a while just enjoying being together and trying to decide where to go next. The rain was light but steady, but John told me he wanted us to go to Fort Toulouse. That sounded like a great place to me, but we needed to wait until the rain cleared up some more. So, we finally just drove to Mrs. Langston's house and had a little ice cream while I showed John my photo album from my college days (something I had been wanting to do for a couple months). John was interested, but seemed slightly distracted as he looked at the pictures. I must admit that though I was having fun looking at and explaining the pictures, I was eager to see what would come next. Eventually I cleaned up a little (I had cat hair all over me and crazy hair from being rained on earlier that day at the workday) and we left for Fort Toulouse.

When we got there, it was just barely misting and there was almost no one else in the park. John parked the car and we took out our cameras. I also noticed that John took his Bible in a plastic bag and was curious to see what he would eventually read from it. Our plan was to walk down to the point which is less than a mile. We had been here three weeks earlier during the camping trip and had enjoyed walking to the point with many of our friends and family (see picture). That day had been sunny and filled with many conversations and children.

This day was different. Due to the rain, we were the only ones on the trail. Last time we walked with the group talking with various people, this time we walked hand in hand talking with each other. The sun tried to come out a little, but the rain was threatening. The moss hanging down from the trees seemed longer - due we supposed to the amount of rain that had fallen that day. Eventually we got close to the point and found that it was flooded! So we went back up to that grassy area at the point before the trail enters the woods. There was a little bench there, just perfect for a couple to sit on. John's plastic bag came in handy as we set it on the bench and sat down. A couple guys were fishing near the point just below us, so we talked a little as they made there way away from us up the river.

Soon John reached for his Bible and told me that when a guy finds a girl like the Proverbs 31 woman, he just can't ignore it. He told me that he would like to read Proverbs 31 to me. So in a strong and deliberate voice, John read the proverb. Then he told me that I am like that woman in so many ways and proceeded to go through the verses one by one to describe how he saw me in the description of that woman! I have never been so praised, and felt John's love in how he described me in such an uplifting way. Some of his descriptions touched me, and others made me laugh! He told me that it was a good thing that I was like the woman who "When it snows, she has no fear for her household" since he lived in Ohio! He also said that since I get up to run in the mornings while it's dark, I'm like her since "she gets up while it is still dark;" He told me that I'm not quite like her since she's a "wife of noble character," but that he could help me with that wife part! I just soaked in his compliments, knowing that I don't measure up to that woman, but amazed that he sees me that way and desired to indeed be like the Proverbs 31 woman myself in the days and years to come.

After he finished the Proverb again, he prayed for us. John prayed so thoughtfully and with care for our future - that God would bless us and guide us and so much more! I wish I could remember it all. There were two of us there praying in the name of Jesus so I know that He was there with us. John's prayer was just perfect - I didn't know what we should be praying for, but he prayed for exactly what I knew we needed of God.

After praying, we got up and John said that we needed to find a spot on the ground that wasn't very muddy. In somewhat of a daze, I followed him to a spot where he knelt down and asked if I would be his wife! Of course I did say yes! He then presented me with a beautiful ring. The ring is so pretty and exactly perfect! I am so pleased with it, especially because John picked it out himself specifically for me! How amazing it is to have someone who loves me in so many ways! I was just amazed at this day, still in disbelief that John was actually here and then unable to process that this was actually happening. I, Miriam was actually now engaged to marry John!

I never really thought that I would marry anyone, much less a wonderful, godly man like John. How amazing God is to bring us together at this time in our lives. We were many states away and yet God saw fit to allow us to meet online and to develop a friendship that will now join two lives and indeed two families together forever. God has provided me with a romantic guy who took great delight in thinking up and planning an amazing proposal just for me. I feel completely unworthy of his love and hope to somehow love him as much as he loves me. God is love, so I trust that God will continue to make our love grow toward each other as we continue to love and follow God.

I guess I better get back to our story. Some of you may find it amazing that at this time we did not kiss. I know this is not the decision of most couples, but we are endeavoring to save that first kiss for our wedding day. I just can't wait until that time comes! Right now we're thinking we will marry either August 30th or September 6th (of this year!). We took a picture using the camera's timer and then headed back to the car. By this time it was beginning to get dark and we were hungry. After a lovely dinner at Casa Napoli's in Wetumpka, we headed back to my parents home taking the time to call a few of our family and friends on the way. It was exciting to talk and share the good news, but soon we had to call it a night. John had been up since 3:45 AM and was tired having been planning this all week long.

After talking with my family for a little while, I drove home still in amazement at what had just taken place. I knew I wanted to journal immediately so I wouldn't forget any part of this special day. After midnight I knew I had to get some sleep and so the day ended with a very happy girl looking at her ring and knowing that a very special guy named John loved her!

The story is obviously not close to being over as it's the beginning of something brand new! The next day at church was filled with excitement as I "glowed" according to many there and just could stop smiling as I told of what had occurred the day before. Monday was no different as I repeated the story to many amazed coworkers who had no idea that I was even dating anyone. I enjoyed the reactions of so many: from the young boy at church who said "I knew he would ask you" in a very deadpan voice indicating that it was really no big deal, to another young boy who told me that his little brother almost bought a ring like that for his girl friend, but didn't since it cost five dollars, to a guy at work who told me that he's never been so surprised at anything in all of his life, to the excited comments of so many of the girls at work and church, to the quite congratulations of the guys. It is indeed a wonderful thing to be able to share my joy with so many friends! I created an uproar in our 8am meeting. As the meeting begin, Kayce wrote a note to Connie telling her that "Miriam got engaged this weekend!" I walked into that meeting right after Connie read the note and realized immediately from her shocked expression that Connie already knew. She was both excited and happy for me and upset that she had not heard the news earlier. Needless to say the meeting was in a bit of an uproar for several minutes as everyone heard what had occurred in my life!

The news is bittersweet to everyone I tell around here since they all have been extremely excited until they realize that this means that I am moving to Ohio. I've had more people offer to find John a job here and others try to convince me (in a loving way) that I should just forget the whole thing and stay here in Alabama. I will indeed be sad to leave these people, but I am entirely excited to be moving to a new place to start a new life in the coming months! This new life will I'm sure be full of both challenges as well as joy! We have both waited for what seems like a long time for the one that God would bring into our lives and now it is amazing to see how God is working out all those details to bring what seems so perfect to pass!

John did have to go back home on Sunday afternoon. But before we enjoyed a nice lunch with my parents and sisters after Church. It has been fun to share this time with my family. John definitely enjoyed involving my family in the planning of this event. I feel blessed indeed to have a fiance who cares about not only his own family, but mine as well! Our families have been able to meet at Christmas and spend more time together at the camping trip a few weeks ago. We were both privileged to grow up in families that honor Christ and who are looking forward with joy to our wedding!

It's definitely getting harder and harder to see John leave again, but we know that each time a day passes, we that much closer to the time that we will be married! I am looking forward to the time when I can be up in Ohio. I'm sure that the time will pass quickly as we have a huge number of wedding details to determine between now and then as well as many things demanding our time such as work, friend, family and church. John and I are going on a missions trip to Peru with my Church in July, so I am looking forward to spending some more extended time with John then. Actually I don't have to wait too long to see John since he's coming back here to Alabama on Friday! I can't wait!

I'm Engaged!

John asked me to marry him on Saturday at Fort Toulouse! (And I said YES!). More details will come, but I didn't have time to finish my story. I may post what I've written so far, but I haven't gotten to the exciting details yet. So, stay tuned . . . I'm so excited, but really have to try to work today in between telling my story again and again!

Fort Toulouse

Fort Toulouse has always been a special place to me. From camping trips, to walks to the point, to sibling pictures and more. It is indeed a great place that as of two days ago became way more special!

Those of you who have already heard the news are probably reading along saying "get to the point" while the rest of you are in for a big surprise! I have been telling people about this special event all day today, yesterday and the day before and am just now sure how to begin.

First of all, some of you need to meet a very special guy in my life - John. I met John in March of last year through the internet. We eventually begin to talk and then met in person. There are innumerable details I could share about this past year as I passed from knowing things about John, to knowing John, to loving John. I was amazed to find John to be someone I can trust and respect as well as someone I love. John is fun to be with, interesting to talk to and most importantly someone who loves his savior Jesus Christ. John's priorities in life are his God and his family (and now me!). But I would like to fast forward through those special weekends that we were able to spend in the same towns in Ohio, Illinois, South Carolina, Alabama, Kansas, and Arkansas to the most amazing weekend we just had here in Alabama.

I'm not really good at leaving out a lot of details, so here it is. I'll start with Saturday morning and then back up to some other details that make more sense in retrospect. Saturday morning started like any other day. I got up a little early for a weekend in order to go to the church workday. At the workday, I was able to be a part of the clean up crew with Pastor Phil. We pulled trash out of the addition and put it in Jame's truck and then unloaded the truck (in the rain) to the dumpster. Eventually, they were out of work that I could do so I went home.

After an hour of messing with pictures, I decided to call John. We had talked the night before and planned to spend some time talking between my two events of the day - the church workday and babysitting for the Paces. John didn't answer his phone. This was a little unusual, but I thought he was probably on another call or maybe at the YMCA so I left him a message saying that I hoped to talk soon and that I might go to the nursing home to visit Mrs. Langston or I might just stick around my house for a while. After a half hour or so I decided that John must really be busy so I would just go ahead and visit Mrs. Langston. I loaded up her cat and picked up the mail and drove to the nursing home. We sat and talked for 20 minutes or so in the hall. Then I looked up and saw John walking towards us with my mom and dad.

Here's what I was thinking. First I thought, oh, there's John and mom and dad. Then it hit me "There's John! What is he doing here - he's supposed to be in Ohio!" I said something inane like "What are you doing here?" and told him that I was so glad to see him. Dad then told me that he would take my car back to the house and bring Mrs. Langston's cat home too. I would go with John and Dad told us to have a good time. I immediately realized that today was special. John wouldn't just come down here without a big reason. I knew he bought a ring last weekend and that he just talked with my parents. . . so the dots began to connect in my brain. I knew that today must be the day that I would get to answer a very important question.

. . . My lunch hour is gone so I'm going to have to leave you hanging. More of the story will come this evening!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

AWANA Science Experiment - A Superabsorber

(This experiment was taken from Science and the Bible - an awesome set of books!)

Theme: Creation is filled with useful gifts

Bible Verses: [God] who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18)

Materials Used: disposable diapers, clear glasses, water

Lesson: Our Bible verse states that the earth is a unique place in the entire universe. It was here that God focused his special attention for our welfare. He supplied the earth with just the right balance of oxygen, water, and useful elements. We are surrounded with examples of obvious design and planning. It is very common today to “put down” any special significance for the earth. After all is only one of the planets circling the sun. We are in a distant corner of the milky way, just one of billions of galaxies. Isaiah 45:18 however gives an entirely different perspective. After all, it was the earth that Christ came and walked among men. In this light, the earth is truly a spiritual center of the universe.

Lesson:When God created the earth, he placed in it many potential benefits for mankind. The job of scientists and engineers is to discover these things in nature and to develop usefully applications. We will experiment with one cool product called water absorber. It can be bought from a chemical supplier or landscaper, and it’s also found inside the fluffy fabric of larger disposable absorbent diapers. Take about one tablespoon of the white absorber grains out of the diaper and place it in a clear glass. Place water in the other glass. Pour the water back and forth between the glasses. The water should mix with the powder and turn into a thick Jell-O like substance that will not pour. This is only one of many uses for this amazing material that God gave us when he created the world. (To do this with a small class so that everyone has a turn, have each child pour the liquid into the cup one time and pass it to the next child).

Note - when we did this experiment a couple weeks ago, I got the diapers to use from my neighbor. She said those diapers were ones that her baby didn't like (they gave him a rash) so she was glad that I would be able to use them for my experiment. When I cut open the diapers to get the powder out, there was only a dusting of powder. We cut open three diapers and the powder from those diapers made almost no change to the water. When I realized that this experiment looked like a failure, I finally got another type of diaper out of the nursery. The diapers from the nursery were great! I opened up one diaper and found several tablespoons of the superabsorbing powder. We used just part of the powder and after pouring the water from one cup to the other just a few times, the water changed into the jell-o like stuff.

So this experiment showed a good reason why the first diaper brand we tried gave my neighbor's baby a rash. It contained little or no superabsorbing powder! So if you're wondering if a certain diaper brand is better than another, do this experiment with both types of diapers!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Birthday Chocolate

Chocolate is an amazing gift of God to mankind! I don't suppose there's a scripture saying that, but it is one of the awesome things he has given to us. My family knows of my love of chocolate so my birthday cake has always been a variation of chocolate of some kind. Usually a chocolate cake with chocolate icing and some sort of chocolate ice cream as well. This year, they made a brownie instead of a cake which was even better (see the recipe on Anna's site here). Somehow the richer the chocolate the better! Topping it with chocolate ice cream, chocolate syrup and dark chocolate chips was perfect - Thanks again! :)

Knowing my weakness for and great desire for chocolate, some may wonder why I don't weigh 300+ pounds. If given the choice, I would always prefer to eat chocolate. I have always had a desire for candy that seems to be stronger that the desire others have for something sweet. Somehow, I have always had a hard time not eating more candy than was healthy. Moderation is good, but somehow the few pieces of candy always had a tendency to turn into more and more until most of the bag was gone. I think it's gotten a little easier for me in the last few years, but it's still a struggle. I've found that for me it's good to put some artificial boundaries in place. Last year, one of my new years resolutions was to buy no candy in town that I would consume in town (unless it was to be shared with someone else). Candy for a car trip was fine, but not candy just to eat here. One other exception was for candy from the snack machine at work. I decided I would only buy that if I was working overtime and only if I had extra change.

Those simple rules were easy for me to remember. I no longer had to battle in my mind about whether or not I should buy a candy bar when shopping. I had already decided that I would not do so. Somehow an external legalistic rule helps me in cases like this. I also chose to never make cookies or other deserts unless most of it was to be shared with friends, neighbors or church potlucks. Making deserts for those potlucks becomes more fun when that's the only time you "get" to eat deserts.

In some ways I think my external rule is a lot like some of the rules the pharisees made. The problems with legalistic rules like mine (and those of the pharisees) is when the rules get confused with the reason for the rules.

My rules were made for me so that I don't have to decide each time I shop if I should buy some candy. I know my weakness to eat what I purchase so I know that for me personally, to buy it usually means I will eat it way too fast. I suppose I could have made my rule a little different and decided to work on self-restraint at home by making certain I bought chocolate and then had the willpower not to eat it! But anyways, I decided that the battle would remain at the store.

Now my rule doesn't make me better. It's not even a rule that I always follow (in fact it's not one I am following this year). It's also not a rule that everyone should follow. For many people, the "rule" is completely unnecessary since not everyone struggles with a pull toward candy. I guess it's somewhat odd to write about a rule you don't even always follow, but it just seemed to go along with my love of Chocolate. Do you ever make rules for yourselves?